For the past week, I have felt alone and unrecognizably sad. I have been fatigued and irritable. These emotions are not unfamiliar to me, though, as I have lived with major chronic depression and anxiety since I was a child. Still, it was not until recently that I was able to grapple with why I would never be able to truly process these feelings.
Neurotypical people oftentimes are allowed to sit with their emotions and work through them. I, however, do not always have that luxury. In the summer of 2017, I began experiencing some of the worst panic attacks of my life. I wrote about that experience here. Since then, I have lived with the fact that I would not be allowed to be sad. Or, at least, I’d have to constantly send messages to my brain that I am not sad. If I don’t, I feel my anxiety worsening and I sit on the brink of a panic attack. It is not just my nuerodivergence that causes this, though.
My reality is this: I am a fat, darkskin, neurodivergent person who has a certain level of visibility and responsibility. Because of this, I am oftentimes engaged as subhuman, superhuman, or not human at all; expected to take care of everyone else’s needs and stripped of my needs, desires, and all other things which make me human in the process. It is due to this that, ignoring my neurodivergence for a moment, I am not given space to be sad, irritable, or tired. I am expected to carry the weight of the world with unwavering strength and a smile.
This, coupled with my depression and anxiety, leads me to what I am expressing in this moment: in a society which prioritizes the most beautiful, non-disabled person, folks like me are rarely ever allowed the space to process, to be sad, to be unhappy. The science behind the chemical imbalance in my brain plays a major role in how I experience sadness, but it is the social which impacts how I respond to my sadness.
When I sulk — for an hour, a day, or a week — I am met with words like “I’m not used to you being down,” or reminded of work and responsibilities that I have waiting for me, or am expected to place my feelings on the back burner to nurture someone else. Though I am not a Black woman, and therefore cannot necessarily relate to being “mammified,” I do know what it feels like to be a fat darkskin Black person who is stripped of his/her/their humanity. We are expected to love, perform for/cater to, and show up for everyone, and that is rarely ever reciprocated. We are expected to bear crosses that are not our own and do so happily. Expected to never cry and to always act as therapists to others, but demonized when we dare prioritize our own [mental] health and emotions.
I don’t know that I have a solution, nor am I attempting to make an argument based off anything outside of my own lived experience. What I am sure of, though, is that I am tired of being sad, I’m tired of being sad with no space to process, and I am sad that this is a reality for so many other people. For so many fat, darkskin neurodivergent people there is no room for us to be weary.